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Friday, 21 January 22
CHINA'S POWER TRADING TARIFFS TO RISE IN 2022 - FITCH RATINGS
Fitch RatingsRising trading volume and higher-than-benchmark tariffs in the 2022 bilateral contracts signed between Chinese power generation companies (gencos) and end-users signal an increase in power trading tariffs, reflecting the gencos' intention to recoup profit amid elevated coal prices and increased participation in market trading by commercial and industrial (C&I) customers, says Fitch Ratings.
 
Some Chinese power gencos enter into the next year's annual market trading contracts with end-users - mainly C&I customers - at the end of the current year. The bilateral contracts account for most of their annual trading volume and set the tariff agreed upon between both parties.
 
Jiangsu province's 2022 power market trading volume in these bilateral contracts will rise by 9.7% from a year earlier with the average trading tariff for coal-fired power at CNY466.78/MWh, higher than the local benchmark coal-fired tariff by 19.36% and almost reaching the price ceiling of CNY469.2/MWh. Guangdong province's annual electricity to be sold under the bilateral negotiated trading mechanism in 2022 will rise by 21.1% from a year earlier, and its average selling price will exceed its benchmark tariff by 7.35%, in stark contrast to 2021 when the annual traded power was sold at a discount of 11.56% to the benchmark tariff.
 
The 2022 annual power trading prices in south Hebei, Shaanxi and Hainan provinces will also approach the upper limit of 20% above their provincial benchmark tariffs.
 
The higher nationwide market trading tariff in 2022 follows a coal price rally in 2021, which significantly squeezed gencos' profit margins. The Qinhuangdao 5,500kcal/kg benchmark thermal coal price fell to CNY945 per tonne on 18 January 2022 after government intervention, from more than CNY1,300/tonne on average in 4Q21, but prices are still much higher than in 2019 and 2020. Fitch expects provinces that experienced severe power shortages in 2021 to set higher market trading tariffs in 2022, as price hikes are more acceptable by most end-users than blackouts.
 
The Chinese power trading market has also expanded, as all C&I users are now required to participate, implying higher tariffs as a fixed retail tariff is no longer an option for them. The local power grid can serve as their power purchasing agent in the transitional period, but the tariff it offers tends to be more volatile and sometimes higher than that of long-term contracted power from gencos.
 
Renewable power trading prices agreed upon between gencos and users in bilateral contracts for 2022 in eastern China will also increase. The average trading price of renewable power in Jiangsu province will be CNY72/MWh, or 8.38%, higher than the coal-fired benchmark tariff, while the average price of green power in Guangdong province will be higher by CNY61/MWh, much wider than the CNY30/MWh-CNY50/MWh premium to the coal-fired benchmark tariff in September 2021 when China's pilot scheme for green power trading started.
 
Fitch expects the premium of renewable power trading prices to rise further in eastern China, where curtailment risk is low due to strong market demand for electricity. The premium over coal-fired tariff is supported by high demand for renewable power from state-owned users, which are now evaluated by their government parents on their performance in achieving carbon-neutrality goals.


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